“It was like going to a spa…” - The Magic Gang open up about making their debut album
We’ve been reading about Brighton foursome The Magic Gang and their brand of sun-kissed, harmony-led indie pop for some time now, but today we finally get to hear their self-titled debut album.
We spoke to bassist Angus Taylor about the making of the LP and why they’ve got no truck with meaningless album titles…
How did the experience of recording of your debut album compared to the way you’d imagined it?
“We recorded it in two 10 day blasts, wedged between tours. The way I’d imagined it was going to be quite a stressful experience, being really pushed for time, working to hard deadlines. But, bizarrely, it was like going to a spa, just really relaxing. We worked in this studio in Banbury and the process was really nice. We had a great producer, who was really on our wavelength, and we were really happy. Both then and now.”
You did the album with Jolyon Thomas, who has worked with Royal Blood, U2, Daughter and more besides, why did you settle on him?
“He’d worked with some cool people and he seemed to have a range of records under his belt and we wanted someone versatile. We’ve worked with a few different producers in the past and it’s always felt like a struggle to get the end result we wanted, but with Jolyon it was different. He knew a lot about the music we loved and how to get the sounds out of our heads. He slotted in, he was like a fifth member of the band and he was never overbearing, but at the same time, he made us question everything we were doing. That’s a hard balance, but he made it a great experience.”
With any debut album, you’ve in theory got every song you’ve ever written in contention for inclusion, how did you decide which songs to focus on?
“It depends. We’ve probably got about 30 songs we all liked. We’re quite backed up actually, we’ve probably got between 50 and 75 songs floating about, but not all of them are good. All four of us write songs individually and then we bring them into the band. Then things get chopped and changed, structures and lyrics get f**ed with and every song gets a filter from each member of the band. That’s our sound.”
How easy was it to decide which songs would make the record?
“It was quite difficult. It’s a debut album and, if it was up to us, we’d have put 12 brand new songs on there that we’d never released before. But that would be very naive. A debut album, we know, needs to be a documentation of the band from the beginning to where we are now. There are some really old songs on there. ‘Alright’ is three years old, it’s had a facelift, but it’s the same song. We’ve got a good idea of the old songs that the fans love and for the new ones we just wanted to get a varied selection of tracks.”
To showcase each member?
“Exactly. We love how on Beatles record, and I’m not comparing us to The Beatles, but we do love how the albums move and how there are multiple vocals. It makes the album really digestible and a proper journey throughout the 45 minutes.”
What kind of album do you think it is lyrically? If you all write individually does that mean it’s difficult to have any unifying themes?
“The thing that unifies it is the fact that we were all living in the same house. We were all living through the same things, the struggle of coming out of university, working terrible jobs and trying to stay afloat. We’d all been through break-ups, we’d left the city we love so much and it put us all into a big period of transition. Each of our own circumstances are different, but there’s a lot of common ground.”
Was the album always going to be self-titled?
“We always wanted to do that. So many bands these days give their albums such throwaway titles, there are so many meaningless sentences. I see them and I think ‘What are you doing?’. It needs to be simple and memorable. I don’t like album titles that are four or five words, you need to focus on what you do.”
The cover is the just the four of you. Were you never tempted by anything wackier?
“No. What we like about our artwork is the lack of connotations, it could be anything. We don’t look like a guitar band. It’s the first time we’ve used an image of ourselves, but it’s a good photo, it’s saying ‘Here we are, this is what we look like, here’s the music’.”
Finally, how’s the rest of 2018 looking for you? Are you booked until Christmas?
“Pretty much, it’s still a little in flux, we’re adding new festivals. But we’re about to announce a big tour for October across the UK, the venues are a real step up for that. Then we’ll be going out to Europe and we’re hoping to go to Japan and the rest of the East in the winter. That’s the plan.”